This weekend sees the centennial commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. The armed insurrection began on Easter Monday which, due to Easter being a moveable feast as a result of its relationship to the lunar calendar, in 1916 fell on the 24th April. Rather than being linked to this specific date, however, annual commemorations take place during Easter Week.

The Easter Rising was launched with the aim of securing an independent Irish Republic. The uprising was organised by the seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and brought together over 1,200 men and women from the Irish Volunteers and other organisations to overthrow British rule.

After their initial success of taking control of key defensible locations in Dublin, the rebels issued the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and established the Provisional Government. The Proclamation was read by Patrick Pearse outside the rebels’ newly-established headquarters at the General Post Office, and it took the British and many Dubliners completely by surprise.

When the British did act, however, they did so decisively. Martial law was declared on Tuesday evening, and within just a few days more than 16,000 British troops had been brought in to the city. When the Provisional Government surrendered on the 29th April, at least 485 people had lost their lives and 2,600 were injured. The vast majority of those both killed and wounded were civilians.

Of the more than 3,000 people arrested in the aftermath, 15 of the most prominent were executed within two weeks of the end of the uprising. A further 1,400 were imprisoned in England, many without having stood trial. While the Rising itself had won little support from most Dubliners, the British reaction to it helped to build support for Irish independence. The Sinn Féin republican party went on to win a landslide victory in the General Election of 1918.

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© Scott Allsop